Cost of Solar Panels in North Carolina: Local Solar Installation Prices (2022)
Here’s a quick look at the estimated cost of solar in North Carolina:
- Average Cost Per Watt: $2.54
- Cost of Average System: $19,736*
- Cost of Energy Without Solar: $46,705
- Payback Period: 13 Years**
- Lifetime Savings of Going Solar: $20,035
*Average system size is calculated using data from the Energy Information Administration. This price is after tax credit.
**Payback period is calculated assuming the system is purchased in cash.
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As more and more homeowners in the Tar Heel State become aware of the benefits of generating their own electricity via solar energy, many are asking: How much do solar panels cost in North Carolina?
While most people these days inherently recognize the environmental benefits of solar energy, as well as the ability to raise their property values and perhaps even make money by selling excess generation back to the grid, all of those opportunities will remain out of reach if the cost of solar panels in North Carolina is out of their price range.
In this article, we’ll explain how much solar panels cost in North Carolina as well as financial incentives available in the state. However, the figures we present are just averages, and you’ll need to get a free quote from a solar installer to see how much a system would actually cost for your home.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in North Carolina?
North Carolina has quickly become one of the top states for solar installations, and for good reason: The average cost of solar panels in North Carolina is slightly below the national average. Based on market research and data we’ve collected from top solar panel brands, the average solar panel cost in North Carolina is $2.54 per watt, while the U.S. average is $2.66 per watt.
To put that into context, a reasonable sized installation for a North Carolina home may be about 5 kilowatts, which would put the solar panel costs at $12,700. This lowers to $9,398 after applying the federal solar tax credit.
These prices, of course, will increase as the size of the project increases, as show in the following table of potential solar panel system sizes:
|Size of Solar Panel System||North Carolina Solar Panel Cost||Cost After Federal Tax Credit|
However, the above table only represents expected average costs of a solar energy system. Many different factors can come into play when determining how much you’ll actually pay for solar panels in North Carolina, some of the most critical of which are discussed in the following section.
What Determines the Cost of Solar Panels in North Carolina?
A solar power system for your rooftop is like any other building addition — it doesn’t come with a single off-the-shelf price. Instead, the cost you pay for your solar panel installation will directly vary in accordance with some key factors:
The most obvious factor that can and will impact the final price you end up paying for your solar system is the cost of the solar equipment itself. Just like any other product, solar photovoltaic panels can be purchased at the base level of performance, or you can opt to spend more to invest in the best solar panels with additional features, higher-quality materials, and other benefits.
From the efficiency of the solar modules used to the physical resistance of the exterior materials to protect your panels from the elements, you’ll have to make informed decisions based on the cost and benefits of each option.
These things can add up quickly, so it’s important to do your research and consult with experts about what type of solar equipment best meets your needs while falling within budget.
Further, solar equipment goes beyond just the solar panels themselves — you’ll also need to make additional purchases like the type of racking equipment needed to mount the panels, the interfacing technology, and systems that allow you to adjust and monitor your solar system, and more.
Another key area to consider when figuring solar panel costs in North Carolina is how you’ll pay for and/or finance the system. As noted above, a solar installation can be a significant investment that costs over $10,000 out of pocket, not unlike the purchase of a car, for example. Most people will readily recognize that the cost of a car will actually increase if they need to finance it or lease it rather than pay for it upfront in cash, and the same goes for solar systems
Here are the main solar financing options available to homeowners:
- Paying in cash: When paying outright for your solar system, what you see is what you get in terms of the final system cost. There are no fees or interest payments to add to the lifetime cost of the system.
- Taking out a loan: If the upfront cost of the solar system is out of your budget, the capital can be raised by taking out a solar loan. North Carolina has laws that prevent solar loans from having interest rates higher than 8% and from spanning more than 20 years. Still, interest will add to the total cost of your solar project.
- Leasing the solar panels or signing a power purchase agreement: If paying outright or taking out a loan aren’t options for you, many solar companies will offer solar leases or power purchase agreements (PPA). In each of these arrangements, you never actually own the system, instead simply paying the solar company to access the power it generates. This arrangement reduces cost barriers and lifetime risks, but it also significantly minimizes how much you’ll ultimately benefit financially from the solar system.
A final consideration when trying to evaluate the cost of solar for your home or business in North Carolina comes when you choose a company to install your PV system. As with choosing a company to build a deck or in-ground pool, for example, you’ll have no shortage of solar installers that will be happy to compete for your job and can do so by offering a range of services at different price points.
You may come across national solar installers that have lower prices due to their bigger brand name and access to bulk pricing, or you might see small, local installation companies offering deals or specials to compete with those major players. Each regional landscape will differ, and new players will enter and leave the market regularly, so there’s no one-size-fits-all piece of advice for finding the best solar company in North Carolina.
Instead, it’s simply critical that you do some research and contact multiple solar installers in your area and get free quotes to make sure you get the best deal.
North Carolina Solar Incentives
To help with solar panel costs, North Carolina has put in place a variety of financial incentives for homeowners. These opportunities are summarized in the table below and highlighted in our full review of North Carolina solar incentives.
|North Carolina Solar Incentive||How it Affects the Cost of Solar Panels in North Carolina|
|Property Tax Abatement for Solar Electric Systems||North Carolina does not tax you for the increase in property value after installing solar panels.|
|North Carolina Net Metering Policy||Surplus electricity from your home solar system can be credited at retail price on your next power bill.|
|Duke Energy Solar Rebate||Duke Energy customers can qualify for a cash incentive ($400 per kW for residential systems up to 10 kW) when installing a solar panel system.|
|Financing Program for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency||North Carolina has a law that enables revolving loan programs from cities and counties, with a maximum interest rate of 8% and a maximum term of 20 years.|
|Local Solar Incentives||Additional incentives may be available from your county, city or utility company, so be sure to consult your local city and county government websites.|
|Federal Solar Tax Credit||Anyone in the U.S. can take advantage of the federal solar investment tax credit. For solar systems installed before the end of 2022, 26% of the cost of the system is available as a tax credit on your federal filing.|
FAQ: Cost of Solar Panels in North Carolina
The average cost of solar panels in NC is $2.54 per watt, which is slightly below the national average of $2.66 per watt. For a 5-kilowatt installation, that would come out to $12,700 (down to $9,398 after applying for the federal tax credit). For a 10-kilowatt installation, that would come out to $25,400 ($18,796 after the tax credit).
We recommend consulting with a few solar companies in your area to make sure your house is a good fit for solar.
No, solar panels are not free in North Carolina. However, based on the numerous incentives and tax credits and the ability for solar installations to reduce your monthly utility bill, over the lifetime of the solar systems you can expect to save more money than you spend for a net profit.
North Carolina offers several tax incentives for potential solar installations. The state offers a property tax exemption for solar installations, meaning you won’t pay property tax on the value they add to your building. North Carolina also allows solar owners to participate in net metering, selling surplus power back to the grid at retail price. Further, individual utilities or local municipalities may offer additional rebates, tax credits, or other incentives.
Matt Chester is a subject matter expert on energy, utilities, and sustainable practices who uses his engineering background to break down complex technical concepts for all audiences. He’s spent a decade as a consultant on teams advising the U.S. Department of Energy as well as diving into the world of clean energy, sustainable business practices, and the future of the grid.